Saturday, 03 November 2018 11:23


Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Press release

Oklahoma’s Preterm Birth Rate Rises to 11.1 Percent

Oklahoma’s preterm birth rate in 2017 rose from 10.6 to 11.1 percent and the state remained at a “D” grade, according to the 2018 Premature Birth Report Card from March of Dimes, the nation’s leading maternal and infant health nonprofit. For the third year in a row, more U.S. babies were born too soon with serious risks to their health. Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributor to death in the first year of life in the United States, and the leading cause of death in children under age 5 worldwide.

In Oklahoma the rates of babies that are born too soon (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) vary across population, with racial disparities and access to care a leading factor in preterm births. The preterm birth rate in Oklahoma among African American women (13.1 percent) is 39 percent higher than the rate among all other women.

Programs have been launched by the March of Dimes and collective health partners in Oklahoma to address these inequities:

• In Oklahoma City March of Dimes is funding the IMPLICIT (Interventions to Minimize Preterm & Low Birthweight Infants through Continuous Improvement Techniques) utilizing well child visits to screen new mothers for health risks with the goal of improving maternal care and future pregnancy outcomes.
• Partnering with the Infant Mortality Alliance on the Leading Ladies for Healthy Babies, a mentoring program that supports pregnant women. By implementing evidence-based practices through local, faith-based ministries the project is reducing infant mortality, and improving the health and wellbeing of African American women.
• Co-Sponsoring with Oklahoma State Department of Health the upcoming OPQIC (Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative) Pre-Summit on Improving Racial and Health Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health on November 15th in Oklahoma City.
• Partnering with the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Preparing for a Lifetime initiative to improve birth outcomes by reducing infant mortality and racial disparities.

The overall U.S. preterm birth rate rose to 9.93 percent of births in 2017 from 9.85 percent in 2016, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). While there is no single cause of preterm birth, research shows that chronic inequities and unequal access to quality health care do have a negative impact on these rates. These factors contribute to the reality that women of color are up to 50 percent more likely to deliver prematurely and their children can face a 130 percent higher infant death rate compared to white women. Promising interventions can help reverse these trends, and better access to health care is essential. A recent March of Dimes report revealed the unequal access to maternity care across the US, particularly in communities with higher poverty rates.

The continued rise in its preterm birth rate earned the U.S. a “C” grade on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, which grades all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico on their preterm birth rate. This year, 30 states had a worse rate compared to last year and 10 of those states received a worse grade. The Report Card shows the racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in preterm birth within each state.

“It will take us all working together to create solutions and reverse these alarming trends,” says Belinda Rogers, Director, Maternal, and Child Health & Government Affairs, of March of Dimes. “It begins with ensuring every baby has the healthiest possible start in life, regardless of racial and ethnic background or their family’s income. By expanding proven programs and innovative solutions we can to lower the preterm birth rate and improve birth equity.”

The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card is based on final 2017 natality data from NCHS. Compared to 2016, preterm birth rates in 2017 worsened in 30 states, stayed the same in 6 states and improved in 16 states.

• 1 state –Vermont-- earned an “A” on the 2018 Premature Birth Report Card;
• 15 states received a “B”
• 16 states got a “C”;
• 14 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia got a “D”;
• 4 states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia) received an “F.”

Among the 100 largest U.S. cities, based on the number of births in 2016, Oklahoma City and Tulsa once again were among the cities on the list, with rates of preterm birth at 11.1 and 11.5 percent respectively.

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start.


Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we stand up for every mom and every baby.


Visit or for more information.



David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

Google +


Founded in 2012, our goal is to bring you the latest news with a focus on Poteau, LeFlore County and Southeast Oklahoma. So Much More than News - News as it Happens 24/7! FREE